Copyright June 2000, Dave Palmer

For what it is worth, here is a log of correspondence which shows some of the issues a person deals with when facing grief caused by death of a loved one. There are duplicate entries and entries which might make no sense at all. This is not an attempt to convince you to treat your grief a certain way. Everyone responds to grief in their own way.

In this case it was the loss of a spouse, loss of a marriage, loss of a 20+ year relationship, and loss of future plans and hopes that triggered these notes. To respect the privacy of others, all email addresses have been removed. In most cases the email shown is only mine.

This is presented only for purposes of illustrating the range of feelings and the way in which these feelings might change over time. This is not an attempt to solicit feedback or response to any issue. As the reader will find out many of the issues have been resolved through various techniques.
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Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 21:33:47 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] FACING-AHEAD Digest - 29 May 2000 to 1 Jun 2000 - Betty, You sure know how to get a guy to smile.

Thanks for the compliments - they are deeply appreciated.

My writing is simply me grieving over someone I loved very much.

Living my grief and reading of others does trigger things in me, and helps me in many ways, and if my grief words are helpful to others besides me, then perhaps we each are gaining some small help from our combined sorrow.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could write of splendid sunrises, snowball fights, and ice cream and popcorn? I pray those days will come to everyone again.

Hugs and prayers, Dave
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Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000 10:48:33 -0700

Subject: Thoughts before a cancer relay Hi - All my bravado and partially regained strength seems to be melting away.

It is 7 hours before the cancer relay and I am crumbling and almost losing myself in grief. And that is just from planning for the relay and thinking about the loss of Ellen. No mantras, no affirmations help right now. Boy this is weird, I guess it is another step through grief and another grief work task that needs to be faced - though I'd love to run away from it. Earlier this week I could enjoy looking at pictures of Ellen as I assembled a scrap book, today I start crying just as soon as I see her image....

After almost 4 months I'm so looking forward to the day when I can no longer see grief hurdles lined up in front of me. My legs are tired and I never was a good hurdle jumper to begin with. But right now the hurdles seem to run out to infinity.....

On a lighter note - I was up early, fed, and turned out the horses, washed the car and had breakfast by 8:30. Then I wrapped gifts for the granddaughter and son birthday. While wrapping I listened to a book on tape.

If you want some good, relaxing and I think fantastic humor, that made even me laugh - then Erma Bombeck's "Whe you look like your passport photo, It's time to go home" is fantastic. The situations are great, the story telling is superb (she narrates this one herself). The audio version is great - you can listen while doing something else. It is 3 hours long and I've listened to it during 3 projects - and it was a great diversion this morning, before the grief monster wakened again. Our library system has copies that you can check out - and it is in bookstores - Some quotes on the jacket: "In Papua, New Guinea, she dodges cannibals who gave a new meaning to catch-of-the-day, in Europe she discovers how many cathedrals you can see before you slip into a coma, and Istanbul is a city shrouded in mystery, rich in antiquity, stubbornly hanging on to its Old World ambiance - and that's only the toilets." With Erma for a smile, my prayers and hugs go out to all as we face the same hurdles.


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Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 07:27:10 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] to Dave from Suzy in London Hi Suzy, Your circumstances and the issues surrounding Derick are extremely challenging and the issues the family brings to you can only serve to make things really hard. I admire you for all that you have done and the way you deal with it.

To those who judge you at 5 months - a pox upon them! Until they know how big a void the loss of a loved one creates, they will never understand. We lost not only a friend, a lover, a companion, a helper, a confidant - but someone who was a part of our very being.

Our mates were people, but they were merged with us. Death took a physical being, and harmed that portion of us which was them. A happy couple is really three entities in my book - each of them and a third person combining the best of each. That third person is gone too - and worst of all, for me, was the death of the hopes and dreams. So give us time to grieve and don't judge us - our dreams might have extended until the end of time and 5 months or a year is sometimes not long enough for all the lights to dim and go out.

My plate of grief is very small, yet yours seems to be piled high with issues that are outside of your control.

Two things I do seem to have helped. I came up with my own affirmation. I use it to tell myself how I want things to be. It goes:

"I want to be able to respond to my grief in ways which honor Ellen's life, honor my love for Ellen and respect my memory of Ellen. I want to be able to respond to by grief in ways which respect my health, my healing, my need for life, my need to grieve and allow me to participate fully in life." Quite a mouthful, but it is my word painting that I hope becomes my mental and emotional agenda. I use this when things are going well.

My pyschiatrist - shortly after I wrote the affirmation - helped me come up with another verbal and emotional process. When I start feeling the wavs of grief or pain, I use what he taught me:

"Ellen is dead. I miss her very much. There is nothing I can do about her death." And then he told me to: "go do something".

These three short, simple, bittersweet sentences - when repeated enough, really help give me something to counter the emotional process.

Oftentimes I change the second sentence to fit what I know is happening.

"Ellen is dead. We were happy and I want to be happy. There is nothing I can do about her death." or (and there is no limit) "We had fun together, I want to have fun again." "I loved her very much, I want to be able to love again." "We enjoyed life, I want to enjoy life again." Somedays on my walks, when grief is really hard, I will say this 'mantra' a hundred times or more. Walking is when I do my best thinking, listen to my self best, and I can really walk and talk! I've seen big improvements in how I feel in just a matter of an hour or less. At other times, around the house or yard, I will use it when something starts bothering me.

Tonight is the cancer relay and this is my first, and maybe last, one. I suspect the emotions will be high and fighting to control me - so my mantra - in whatever form it takes tonight, will be repeated and repeated every step of the way. I support the concept of cancer relays, I have difficulty with the popular message that cancer is curable by changes in diet or life style - and I wish the cancer relay had laps for grievers and their families, and then folks could see the terrible impact each cancer related death has.

I pray the days become brighter for you Suzy. Not so much through sunshine, but through happier feelings and moments of peace. You are in my prayers.

Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

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Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 10:48:33 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Thoughts before a cancer relay Hi - All my bravado and partially regained strength seems to be melting away.

It is 7 hours before the cancer relay and I am crumbling and almost losing myself in grief.

And that is just from planning for the relay and thinking about the loss of Ellen. No mantras, no affirmations help right now. Boy this is weird, I guess it is another step through grief and another grief work task that needs to be faced - though I'd love to run away from it. Earlier this week I could enjoy looking at pictures of Ellen as I assembled a scrap book, today I start crying just as soon as I see her image....

After almost 4 months I'm so looking forward to the day when I can no longer see grief hurdles lined up in front of me. My legs are tired and I never was a good hurdle jumper to begin with. But right now the hurdles seem to run out to infinity.....

On a lighter note - I was up early, fed, and turned out the horses, washed the car and had breakfast by 8:30. Then I wrapped gifts for the granddaughter and son birthday. While wrapping I listened to a book on tape.

If you want some good, relaxing and I think fantastic humor, that made even me laugh - then Erma Bombeck's "Whe you look like your passport photo, It's time to go home" is fantastic.

The situations are great, the story telling is superb (she narrates this one herself). The audio version is great - you can listen while doing something else. It is 3 hours long and I've listened to it during 3 projects - and it was a great diversion this morning, before the grief monster wakened again. Our library system has copies that you can check out - and it is in bookstores - Some quotes on the jacket: "In Papua, New Guinea, she dodges cannibals who gave a new meaning to catch-of-the-day, in Europe she discovers how many cathedrals you can see before you slip into a coma, and Istanbul is a city shrouded in mystery, rich in antiquity, stubbornly hanging on to its Old World ambiance - and that's only the toilets." With Erma for a smile, my prayers and hugs go out to all as we face the same hurdles.

Regards, Dave
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Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000 23:19:51 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Dumping grounds - way too long, delete if you want I'm still alive - and overloaded, but happy to be here. This is sort of long, mixed up and a form of dumping. I am in a numb state of mind and really not connected with my emotions. I just got home from a long trip to Portland and want to vent!!! CANCER RELAY FOR LIFE Meg Gibson wrote me a wonderful note some days ago about the Cancer Relays for Life and their value to recovering patients, caregivers and family members. I have no doubt that they are as good as she described - I only wish I had found one which provided that support.

Maybe my experience will help someone else avoid making my errors - i.e. choose the appropriate cancer walk for you , with someone experienced or someone you know.

I went to the relay expecting something more than I experienced. The relay in Hoquiam Wa. is described as the 2nd oldest in the USA. The 'first' relay took place in Tacoma Wa.

I suspect my experience is the result of signing up with a new team, new team captain in an environment where everyone is 'expected' to know what is going on. I'd already mailed in $100 contribution. I arrived early. I wandered around. Finally I saw a registration desk. Well, that was an error. I literally had to say, 'stop, listen to me', 'my wife is dead', 'I am here to walk', 'how can you help me' - well they couldn't or wouldn't. They finally told me to go to area 28 - where my 'team' was.

Next I wandered to the wall of names. Hmmm, Ellen is not there. Hmmm. Well you get the picture. Despite preregistration, etc., nothing clicked. Not a good way for a griever to be introduced to a celebration. When the team captain arrived the discussion focused on everything but the process (I'm a slow learner). I noticed everyone had 'Relay for Life' t-shirts. Guess who didn't. I know, I am nitpicking like hell - but 4 months after Ellen's death, after pre-registering, after a good sized contribution was mailed in - I might as well be a martian.

What I found interesting was the number of unusual companies among those circling the track - especially two chemical companies - to me strange bedfellows in a walk for the cure. I also saw a number of cancer support organizations (local?) which in 4 years never once contacted me - so I have to wonder where they were when they were needed. As you can tell I am not bashful, and anyone within hearing distance knew Ellen had cancer and knew I was actively fighting for help and solutions.

Anyhow, I walked 7 lonely miles and saying my mantra for some laps, and talking to Ellen's pictures during another lap, left and went home. Next year? Well, I think I will find out where people I know go. I'm in a three county triangle - I chosed my home county - but based on this year's experience it was not a good decision.

SON AND BIRTHDAY - Well, I made the planned pilgrimage to Portland for the 3 year olds, and Dad's, birthday. I'd hoped for a meaningful visit and some resolution to estate issues and probate. Gosh - what else can I say. Leigha and I had a couple of good short talks, and I'm looking forward to a week visit with her in July (she's the granddaughter - 10 years old). I had framed, and wrapped Ellen's pictures - and next saw them unwrapped standing on the ground by the barbeque (sp?). Oh well. We each deal with grief in different ways. What I thought was to be a family gathering turned into a huge adult gathering of 30ish parents and singles. Boy is my pride wounded. But I did try. Will I try anymore? Damned if I know.

Maybe I am a martian? FRIENDS DEATH - I think I'd mentioned the father of an old, in time, dear friend died recently. She and I had lost contact (her first spouse commited suicide 14 years ago, and I intentionally backed away as she went on with her life). Linda contacted me after her Dad died. So we met today for the first time in years. I went to her Mom's home to may my respects. Her Dad's death at 91 was anticipated, and the family was with him when he died at home. They handled it very well. Her mother, 88, is doing well. And the loss of her husband is something she seems to be handling. Linda, however, when alone, shed some tears over her Dad - and then we began to talk about the past.

Linda shared with me something I've read about, but not observed. She still grieves over Joe's death - and wishes things were different. Her husband is supportive and she and he actually talk about Joe and what he might do or say in a given situation that they are going through. She brought home to me all that I've read, (but had a hard time believing) that our lost loved ones stay with us, in different forms and different ways, and that though the years go by we will still grieve in many and different ways. This early in my process it sounds scary, but it also gives me permission not to worry about the memories and the grief that I feel today - it is okay - The short time we were together were among the most rewarding experiences I've had since Ellen's death. Here was a peer, who could comfortably talk to me about death and greiving and listen to me as well. WOW! Maybe I'm not a martian? AND TUESDAY Another difficult journey. Two of our best friends in Oregon were a delight to both Ellen and me. They were a fun couple and one we enjoyed life with. Since 1988 we've stayed close. They supported me at Ellen's service. I was to stay with them in July - and then Pat died suddenly early Saturday morning following surgery.

So I will revisit death one more time - this time for a dear friend, who leaves behind another very lonely soul. When does this ever stop? I haven't cried for Pat yet. I am still in shock over her death and until I see Jere, alone, it won't sink in.

I've not read other email for a couple of days. I pray there are no new members, but reality tells me otherwise. For those new to the list, I ask forgiveness for writing such a scrambled egg note - my grief journey has taken a lot of turns and the road has not always been smooth - and I am weary....

Thanks for the support and love, it does help and it is appreciated...
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Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 19:41:39 -0700

Subject: when does it end? I sitting here between Ellen's death and a funeral tomorrow of a dear friend of ours.

In the last couple of days I've really been down on things. When does this ever end? Don't we ever get a break and a chance at a normal life? It dawned on my the other day I don't want anything to do with being responsible for anything. I am sick and tired of being 'responsible'. I don't want anyone depending upon me. I want out of all obligations. I don't want to have to fix, repair, do or plan anything. I am tired out! I want someone to take care of me! Ha! With my recent focus on recent deaths my dizziness has come back - and I have trouble getting rid of it, I'm easily distracted and having a tough time focusing on what I should be doing. And I am tired of 'shoulds'. Today I was a walking zombie. After plunging through chores, clearing an arena for a sick horse, fighting a relic old pickup (every farm has one), etc. etc., I could barely walk or so it seemed. Sat down to take a break, and it dawned on me - TA TA - I am still on "caregiver alert" - I don't relax, I don't come off of guard duty - I am still - 4 months later - reacting as I did when Ellen was alive and I was a caregiver. My behavior hasn't changed and it is getting me down. I did go on a walk, chanted my mantra (all this in the rain) and stumbled on to two deer (that was a pleasant delight!) - then laid down for 45 minutes and got back up feeling much better. But it is such an effort to change channels from grief to normal, and I have to work hard to do it.

I really miss Ellen. Besides all the loving parts of life, she was my balance. She could order me to slow down, or divert me from tasks - she was truly a my saving grace - and now my body is like a motor with a stuck accelerator - full speed ahead... and I find it hard to give permission to me to slow down or play.

Any of you having or had similar issues? What to do? Any ideas? Nothing sounds fun to me anymore. Nothing sounds interesting. How do you make one hand clap? How does one person dance? It just seems impossible right now. I've been doing the tasks the pyschiatrist ordered. They do help a little. Get out daily, overcome saddness by action, visit someone weekly. But.....

The critters - dog, cat and horses - provide some relief - but not many hugs or words. The garden is still a joy, but it neither listens or talks. The loneliness is really awesome - more so than it was before.

Thanks for listening - now if I can meet the challenge of the drive and funeral tomorrow, maybe I can carve out some time for me. I sure know that I need it. It is a matter of doing it. But I feel guilty doing things for me. Dang, I wish I could get rid of that feeling...

Hugs -
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Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 12:09:58 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] when does it end? I started this an hour or so ago..and something happened..

Dear Lisa, Paul, Anna, Meg, Anna, Patricia, Suzy, Barbara, Joyce and all - I truly am back in the well again. Never knew that peeling onions (my earlier state) was so desirable. Thank you all for the words of support and help. They are a help and a clue to things I can do - now all I need is the gumption to do them.

I don't know how I got here, I don't want to be here and I don't know how to get out of here. This is a real deep well. I think I was okay last week and then the cancer walk, another death, a reopening of old wounds from a friends suicide years ago, and a funeral yesterday, have all taken their toll.

I'd love to be irresponsible, to do fun things and laugh and love again. But 'why'? And as Ellen would say to me - don't ask why - it is so judgemental. And it is - I just feel so darned lost right now - and ------- at this point I had to go out and 'do something' I was feeling stressed to the limit and about to shatter.

Outside to pick stalls I started singing songs, counting out loud, and all of a sudden I slipped into my routine talks with myself - only this time I was shouting - something I'd not done since Ellen's death 4 months ago - and all of a sudden a dam broke and I was crying harder than ever before. I was shouting "Ellen loved me" "Ellen is gone" "Ellen trusted me" - and that's all it took to break through to the tears. The water level in the well is a lot deeper now...

So it finally dawned on me today - and this sounds strange - that Ellen loved me and trusted me like no one else - she really pledged her love and trust and lived that way - and now that source of love and trust is dead and gone. Its' loss brings a terribly lonely feeling to my soul. So just like my idea of our future died a painful death a few weeks ago, now I finally realize that my emotional source of her love and trust has died too. Others might 'love' or 'trust' me, but none can love and trust like a spouse, lover and companion in life.

On my walk and shouting out I want to be loved, I want to be trusted, and I want to love and I want to trust again - has brought more to the surface. I've a long ways to go on this grief journey - I've no idea what else is buried in my guts - yet I need to find out and I am afraid to find out. I do know I need to change my outlook and I do need to get out and be among people. I can't find what I want here at home totally alone.

I'll bundle up some clothing and craft donations and go where people appreciate donations and are friendly and understanding - maybe just doing something will help. And I'll pick up the phone next and call two people - the sound of silence is truly deafening....

Thanks for listening to the keyboard...

Hugs and love to each and all,
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Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 12:19:57 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] from Suzy in London On Wed, 7 Jun 2000 06:37:46 +0100, Suzy Walton wrote:

Derick died just over five months ago and I can honestly say that each day is living hell and I am getting worse not better.

I have no plans. I can make them but have no ability to carry them out. I have no drive or motivation. I can make myself do them but each one is a painful reminder that I am doing them alone. I can talk to people. I don't have people to talk to though - friends and neighbours shy away from discussing 'the death' as if it will somehow infect their chocolate box lives.

Suzy - I have some of the same thoughts. I always ask 'why' am I doing this? I have to do the same things, the same tasks, the same routine and there is no one to share it with. It certainly takes the joy out of life.

When I do accomplish something the sense of accomplishment lasts for an eye-blink. My sense of values is truly distorted and I hope it returns some day soon. The very few times I've felt good is when someone took an interest in me as a person - and that has not happened often or recently. That is the biggest hurt of all to me. I must really be a pain to be around.

I wish I felt comfortable enough to ask someone to live here with me for a time. But I know of no one who is able to drop their life and help my life. Circumstances have created a situation where I cannot leave this place for another - so I guess I will continue to attack the windmills in my mind and try to endure.

One thing is certain, when I come out the top of this well, tunnel or whatever it is I will celebrate for days! It is a long way across the pond, but I'll hang on to my end of the thread! Now you hold on to your end too! Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

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Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 12:30:23 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] when does it end? On Wed, 7 Jun 2000 09:04:45 -0500, Joyce Yeager wrote:

So here we are, in this well again...........only deeper I think. I, for one, am very tired of the well..........tired of life, tired of decisions, just plain tired.

Joyce - Reading your words scares me - but they are the same words I use. This is one of the toughest points in grief that I've been in. And it sounds like you are there too.

I wake up tired, I go to bed tired, I am totally exhausted and the only relief I get is sleep - and then only if I dream (folks say I have to dream every night) which I don't recall happening very often.

The only solution I know of is a supporting family member or friend. And right now my list of desirable candidates is zero. I'm tied to my home, horses and business and I've no backup and no way to get out from underneath it all.

Now with a dear friend just starting his journey, I want to be there for him, but I'm so wrapped up in my tears that I know I can't reach out - not yet. But as I type it dawns on me that 'maybe' he might want to hide out at my place - which is a great hideout - so maybe in a week or two he could help me and I could help him. Who knows? I surely don't.

Now as to walking in my shoes - they are sort of damp from being in the well - be careful, as you might get blisters :-)) Thanks- and hugs,
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Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 18:09:09 -0700

Subject:

Re: [F-AHEAD] when does it end? Hi Barb, Thanks for the personal note and concerns. Have to laugh, you almost got too high on the soapbox, but then I recalled, so very well, that is the type of talk I need.

I've reached out to Jere everyday since his wife died. It is something I feel comfortable doing and something I'll continue to do. We're 220 miles apart, so we won't meet for coffee very often - but with the telephone we can bridge the miles. He has company now, and the coming weekend will be the challenge for him.

Ellen was not one to wallow. She fought a good fight and was very peaceful with her life and choices - she could accept things much better than I.

You are correct though - I can reach down and pull up some strength ( though I still ask 'why'?) and attempt to move forward. "you can not let it kill you also, you must fight just like she did." Wow - that one is a gotcha for me. Very well put and straight to the point. You are so right, I'm letting it kill me too - and that is really a sad thing to say. But you know, it is so hard to get back up when you've lost the battle for the most important person you've ever known. That is the challenge. Getting out of my own way, tearing down the mental prison bars and finding hope in the sunlight - all these seem like impossible tasks some days. "do things in memory of her or in honor of her" I want to do those things Barb, but sometimes 'doing' in the memory brings a lot of grief with it, and it seems I need to find a reason to do things for me. "Me" needs to want to continue on, "Me" needs to find laughter and joy. Maybe backing up and doing things 'in memory of her or in honor of her' will bring some success to my life that I can build on for the "Me" part of life. It is worth a try.

The hardest part is simply the lack of sharing. We shared a lot, enjoyed a lot and lived a lot - all together. The void is real and sometimes difficult to overcome. Unless I get out and do something with others I will never overcome it, and that is the hard part - trying to fit into or jump onto a moving train. Maybe a good technique is to volunteer where I can and do it in a way which honors her and offers a chance of help for me. I have my own nonprofit corporation and going to our office to volunteer is not fun - I want to run away from it. So I'll have to find another outlet where I don't have to make decisions and can simply get in, get my hands dirty and walk away at night without other worries or concerns. Please don't fret about overstepping any bounds - you didn't. I do appreciate the straight talk and it does help. Anything that gets me out of the rut I've dug is appreciated!!! Thanks and hugs, Dave
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Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 22:26:26 -0700

Subject:

Re: [F-AHEAD] when does it end? Dearest Barb - What a touching and eye-opening note you wrote. I was just about to call it quits for the night and catch some sleep. BUT...

Yep - a kick in the butt was what I needed. The kitchen, downstairs entry way, laundry room and bath got a mopping tonight - not that they needed it, ha ha. Have no idea where the motiviation came from, but I've an idea. And, more importantly, I am looking forward to tomorrow! You were insightful to see the stuck record....

Sorry to read of Rob's troubles. It is hard to accept mis-diagnosis, but sometimes that happens - we ran into some of it - but only for 4 months... which was long enough for me and Ellen.

Our farm was a working farm until Feb of 1996. We were hit by a major flood, and we shut down our boarding and horse training right then - that was followed by Ellen's cancer diagnosis in March - and the treadmill started then. For four years I've been playing around the outskirts of the pity pond, and more than once got soaked. I know this is part of my problem, as we had to deal with major rebuilding, loss of personal property, chemotherapy - and more, without even a vehicle to our name. Fortunately a dear friend lent us a Dodge Ram 4 wd (needed to navigate our road) and we were off on the treatment and recovery (physical and real estate). We actually gave away some horses to another friend of Ellen's and kept 4 - always with the plan that we'd start training and boarding again. Ellen actually ordered new supplies this past November and some new tack - she was feeling great and the outlook was pretty good. Then the shingles and - well no need to recount it all - other stuff started and in less than 3 months she was dead.

I still feel very close to Ellen. That leads me into some emotional canyons. So I've not kept that relationship in a healthy perspective. At times it is okay, at, as you know, other times it is not.

This is our third rural home. We were transferred here in 1988 and for both of us it was the longest time we'd ever lived in one place. We loved it. I love it. It was a dream home for both of us, in a 'destination' setting - and it still is - although now it is tainted by 2 major floods and a flood wall surrounding the house, detracts somewhat.

We didn't farm in the sense that you do. But we were great workers with boarding and horse training - until, as you've written, other things came into view. "the years that we spent here have been the happiest & most rewarding years of my life." I agree with that too. Terrific years - and a hard act to follow.

I can tell how happy you are. You are to be complimented for having the strength and desire to continue on like you have. In fact it is admirable and certainly something I don't hear or read about very often. I feel a little backwards now, whining and complaining about my life - and your words have given me an incentive to get my act together and get on with life!! "your life is not over now, just a new beginning. dont worry about not having someone to love & trust you, love & trust yourself. dont dwell on the emptiness, think of it as your personal time with ellen in your thoughts, " You write so clearly. And so truthfully. But - I'm so tired of new beginnings... at least at this moment. Obviously I want things back the way they were - and obviously I am fighting reality. But reality is dragging me one step at a time into the real world. The thought of leaving the house is unacceptable to me. It always has been. While we're not in an older home like yours and eligible for recognition as a "Century Farm" (as they are called out here) we took steps to protect a portion of our property. We have a gorgeous strip of land, treed on both side, with a field in the middle. It runs over a 1/3rd of a mile from the river to the road - and we placed it in a perpetual conservation easement in 1991. This land can not be plowed, logged, dug, developed - nothing - and will stand as it is as long as our system of government lasts - or until the next glacier arrives. This land has me in its grasp. In just our short time here we have a corridor of stately poplar and pines lining the highway - in 11 years they've grown to be magnificent, our pastures are separated by 11 year old doug firs - and again in this climate they've done a dang good job of reaching the sky - we invested our souls - and I hope to live up to that investment, much like you have.

Yes, I am looking for a magic wand. I think I am finding one. I think it comes in a kit form. I think it is put together from pieces sent to me by people like you. I think many of us are assembling a magic wand - and wondering where it all came from. Some comes from inside of us, the rest comes from very decent, hardworking and caring people like you.

You've given me a gift, and I am indebted to you. Rob is very proud of you. As he should be.

Hugs and take care, Dave Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - --Edmund Burke
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Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 08:18:08 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] from Suzy in London On Thu, 8 Jun 2000 06:48:02 +0100, Suzy Walton wrote:

I am tempted to move because I assume that she is reflecting the views of the other houses in the road because they have been behaving exactly the same. If I move though is this to make things better for me or am I simply giving in? Dear Suzy - What a horrendous situation you've got. I would suspect someone has spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) among the neighbors.

I don't know if moving is the answer. My grief contacts say: no, no and no to major decisions in the first year. Moving surely is a major decision.

My life's experiences also tell me that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. My horses prove that to me quite often. Everytime they are put in a new pasture they want back into the old one.

How good do you feel about your "home"? Here, in my home, right now I feel very safe and inside these walls very comfortable (for the most part) and for me a new home would be exciting, but I would be very uncomfortable and ill at ease. This home is my 'retreat' from the outside world and I am eager to return to it.

A new home might be fun for a while, it sure would offer a lot of distractions and it would keep me busy, but...

If I were to move right now (and maybe for a while into the future) I'd feel like I'd abandoned my dream and also walked out on some of the core issues I have to resolve over time. So, in my case (without your problems) I am going to stay, enjoy the comfort and protection it provides me now, and think about the future when the future comes.

Sorry this rambled so much - hope it gives you something to chew on, and I hope and pray some of the neighbor issues get resolved or cleared up - Hugs and prayers,
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Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 08:57:43 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] Deep in the well.....

Dear Toni - I'd hope you sit on the side of the well and dangle your feet. You give us bottom-feeders something to hope for! Maybe others have been unable to know what to say - but it is so simple: "I care about you, tell me how are you?" or "Want to tell me how things are going?" or "Hey, can I help you?" I'd even accept: "What is it like for you now Dave?" One fellow did ask me, yesterday "How are you doing?" and I said "not well" and took the risk to go a step further. He blew me away as the talk progressed. A big, burly, ex-cop and he shared how painful his father's death was (14 years ago). They were more like buddies, and I learned from him, as his tears welled up, that loving and happy grief continues on for a long time. He has a lot of fond memories of his father, their hunting trips, and more. On the flip side his wife has never asked me one question.

I think you almost said that you would eventually like someone to share life with. Being able to say that is hard - it seems 'unloyal' or 'traitor like' to the past. I finally was able to acknowledge that hope - and it felt good to get it out in the open. I don't see any chance of doing that in the near future, but being honest with myself was a big step. In whatever form Ellen is, in whatever place Ellen is, I am sure she is enjoying that new portion of life to the fullest and with all the enthusiasm that she showed here on earth. I think I've also figure out that none of us were meant to walk around in a lonely fog searching for a fog light that is no more. When the fog clears and the sun returns it is time to relish life and pursue it to the fullest. Here in western Washington waiting for the sun is a challenge - snow is forecasted at higher elevations tonight! Really! It is so hard to read about your parent's problems. It is good that your brother is able to help and I pray it works out for them. Please don't second guess yourself about the carcinoma - the two internists have more training and knowledge than you, and they missed it too.

You sure have enough responsibilities - so I say to you - please sit on the side of the well! We sure don't have room for a 110 pound, tail whopping black lab, shnauzer and a cat! Hugs and prayers, Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org A problem well stated is a problem half solved. - --Charles F. Kettering
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Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 19:46:11 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] Big Decisions in First Year Torrie, You asked if is a bad idea to make a big decision.

The pyschiatrist I visit now and then, and I, had a good lengthy discussion on that.

Here is how he described it.

After death you have a full plate to deal with. Put another way your mind and emotions are dealing with all (good, bad, different, comfortable, traditional, etc.) that went on before, and the death. Most of us can handle that.

If, and he was talking to me, you make a big change and remove some of the things that you are used to, there is a good chance the grieving (which stays with you) will then expand emotionally and occupy more room on the plate - I'd guess the risks the surface from: running away from problems, greener grass on the other side of the fence, trying to change horses in midstream, and all the other traditional comments that our language has, might be rooted in reality. Sometimes for me the best place to be (physically or otherwise) is where I am right now.

Don't get me wrong - I'd love to run away and escape some of the problems - but then I wonder what strange terrors await me over there? Hugs,
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Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 17:03:34 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] It's so hard Dear Sarah, My heart goes out to you.

I had a hard time recalling where I was at emotionally 2 weeks after Ellen died in Feb.

My notes tell me it was a very difficult time. Lots of changes and I even had real emotional bouts when people came at different times to pickup the remaining dialysis fluids and the dialysis machine. Those were very painful reminders that Ellen was never coming back.

My truck gave me fits starting, I ran down the battery and really flooded it out, it took a few days to overcome that fiasco - and the lawn mower had a flat tire, then the lights on the barn burned out - and on and on. It was a time of one crisis after another - in a different year they would have been nits, but this year they were huge emotional mountains.

Have to smile as you describe yourself as a 'plant killer' - as I have to walk on egg shells to prevent killing the flowers Ellen planted over the years.

My biggest problem, then and now, is daytimes. We talked a lot during the day, we ate together, we did things together and now the days are the loneliest part for me. The evenings I hide under the sheets and prayer helps a lot.

Now, 4 months later, it is hard to remember those issues - and that is a good sign - and no, it isn't because things have gotten worse - because they haven't. Well, that's not totally honest - the lack of companionship is harder now than then - then there were so many other emotional issues - most of which have decreased, but the lack of someone to talk to, and the lack of companionship seems harder to me right now. Guess that is why my pyschiatrist has me getting out every day and visiting people every week.

Where to start? Follow your instincts and do what you feel needs to be done. You can make that decision for yourself. Sometimes I would do the weirdest things, but that is what I felt needed to be done. So try not to fret about 'what' and instead just 'do'. At least it has worked for me.

You mentioned your family and that they think you are handling this well. Here then is one of my favorite quotes: "Your sorrow is an emotion, not a disease. The only cure for grief is to grieve. You don't have to prove that your're so strong and "doing so well". And the other I like: "It is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how you will manage the pain for today".

Again, my heart goes out to you. I wish I could help your tears, but they are oh so necessary a part of the healing process - just let them flow. There is no shame in crying for someone you loved.

Take care and stay in touch!
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Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 19:47:59 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] Deep in the well.....

On Sat, 10 Jun 2000 19:31:46 -0500, Toni Deonier wrote:

I left her with that thought and then thought that I should do the same thing myself and I couldn't really think of much. I wonder if this is a normal part of grief! When do "fun" things start sounding fun again?? Surely they must.

Ahh Toni - you raise a good question - I sure don't know. I'm a short timer on this list and I don't see forward very far - but from right here and now, it seems difficult to think of fun things to do, now - tomorrow or a few weeks from now.

So much of fun, for me (and Ellen too) was sharing things - new, old, different - it made no matter - it was shared for later groans, laughs or 'why did we ever do that' - and now it is hard for one brain to share, like it is hard for one hand to clap. Fun was also looking forward to learning how someone else did that day and how they felt. Fun was knowing that we were secure and didn't have anything to fear. Fun was a wink, a touch or just a smile. Fun was going to sleep and waking up surrounded by love. D#mn, I slipped further into the well....

I'm following my shrinks advice and 'doing' things. Guess there is an advantage in practicing enjoyment. Today I met a friend/associate at his home for a picture taking session (trying to get a news story run) and it was enjoyable. Ran into my 'new' neighbor at the grocery store and that was enjoyable. So - I guess I'm collecting, piece by piece, a leggo-kit-of-enjoyable-things to assemble later. But it sure one heck of a slow process.

As a griever I picked up the phone and called a friend, one week into grief (who I've called daily), and another (88 year old lady who I wish would adopt me - she is neat!) who is 4 weeks into grief (I visited her last Sunday). That felt good - and I swear I won't abandon them to the loneliness I feel at times.

But so far, none of this is 'fun' - but it helps and it is one step, one day, at a time. I just want to race to the finish line and get my "FUN" badge back.

As you said "surely they must".

Hugs and prayers for fun for all of us,
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Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 22:01:44 -0700

Subject:

Re: [F-AHEAD] Deep in the well.....

Dear Denise, Thank you for the very kind words. Ellen was a special lady, she brought a lot of joy into my life, and I guess I brought some into hers.

We both felt honored to be with each other, and that is really something special. I doubt if we were envied though - we lived a pretty straightforward life, we left the treadmill to others, and the merry-go-round made us both dizzy. So to most, we were a pretty dull couple - but from the inside, looking out, we had a ball! I've Richard Bach in the bookcase. Just a few days ago I started digging into the bookcase. It is amazing that after 4 months I finally started looking at my own resources. Maybe that is a sign of some healing - as I'm looking for answers closer to home...

Losing Mother was an terrible experience for me. I can recall part of the terror. I don't envy what you've experienced. My only saving grace was that I had some expectation that someday she would go - and I almost was prepared for that loss - and I think as a very young kid I had mentally gone through the nightmare a hundred times - maybe other kids don't, but I sure did. Anyhow, that youthful mental process seemed to help years later.

When Ellen's death happened - there had been no anticipation - and my mind has had no place to retreat to. That's the shock that gets me, and I think a lot of spouses - we just don't anticipate the loss of a companion, lover, friend and the future. But Mother, or wife, the death of a loved one is a tragedy - and I hope you find some peace and happiness returns to your days and future.

I'll hang in there, and look for Ellen's dangling rope!
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Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 21:51:40 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] mom's rose Dear Francisca, What a wonderfully courageous man your Father is. He is surely a role model for the rest of us.

The love of a family can do miracles when it comes to healing grief. Our 'nuclear' family is split up all over the nation and the healthy situation that a 'non-nuclear' family traditionally has, is missing in ours. That is a price some of us do pay for our earlier errors and frailities. Your parents were indeed special.

Having said that 2 of the children try to do as much as they can, and this heart of mine really appreciates it.

Ellen and I burned out on travel. A few people have suggested I travel, but until I can unpack some of my grief stuff, I'm reluctant to pursue greener grass right now.

An ideal situation for me would be to re-establish my life with a new outlook and a new sense of who I am, right here where I am.

We bought this place as a planned retirement home and as a travel destination. It is in a truly beautiful location, and I simply love it. When my grief gets out of the way, as it does now and then, it seems as though the 'we' are still able to enjoy it through a single pair of eyes.

I pray you Father, at a young 75 obviously, has many years and miles to go in life. He sounds like a giant and well deserving of the love you kids have for him. Give him a hug for me, and get a zillion back for yourself. There is absolutely no lifetime limit on hugs, given or received!
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Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 14:49:43 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Wondering on grief and more on hugs! Dear folks and family - I'm in a world of confusion today - and I need some help from those who are further along this grief road.

Maybe Sunday and Monday's work brought it on. On Sunday, since I knew Keith was arriving, I removed, photographed and wrapped all of Ellen's Care Bears, knick knacks, trinkets and things which really don't fit me. I scrubbed her bathroom, threw away a lot of feminine stuff, and then attacked the guest bathroom. That seemed to go okay. Monday I went through 3 legal file drawers of papers and uncovered a lot of memories, and got rid of a lot of old receipts, catalogs, news articles, and misc. paperwork. That seemed to feel good too.

Earlier today I came across a grief letter I wrote over a month ago. It brought tears to my eyes rereading where I was back then, and the tears were valulable and less painful than they have ever been. I think that was good. Even the pain has changed - more poignant than painful and softer than ever.

But still, today, I am going in mental circles and totally exhuasted..

Maybe someone of you has been where I am and can offer some view of your experiences or what have you on these issues which seem to burning a hole in me....

When does 'self-worth' get better? Mine is at an all time low. I feel worthless. Being married and being loved, in any order, seemed to emotionally give me a sense of worth.

My 'ambition' or drive to do something is gone. I just can't care enough to get started.

When and how does this pass? It is the pits, it makes everything a super effort - and these things are things I used to enjoy doing.

Maybe it is ambition, but what about 'caring'? I find it hard to care about anything - political, economic, let alone things that others are interested in. They all seem boring.

It also seems like I am afraid to care. Afraid I'll get hurt again.

A dear friends wife died 9 days ago. I went to the funeral. I call him daily. He expressed something about 'not going there' - as related to dealing with some of his wife's things. He just tossed a bunch of the things we were talking about in the garbage because "I don't want to go there, it will hurt too much" I think I want to 'go there, feel it, and heal'.

Some of you who are further along, can you tell me your experience? Is it best to just dump stuff and avoid whatever pain might happen? I've sort of been going slow and dealing with jewelry, or clothes, or craft stuff, or trinkets, or paperwork as it felt okay to do. There is no question there is some pain - but would it be better just to dump it and avoid the pain? I ask because I still have more discoveries to make - and somehow I feel it is necessary to sort of 'hold each issue, feel whatever it offers' and then set is aside and move on. If I trashed things I think I'd regret it later.

For example there are hundreds of cards we've exchanged, untold pictures yet to dig out, each with some meaning and certainly with some discomfort - but maybe a smile or maybe a pleasant daydream. There's no question I'd love to avoid definite short term immediate pain, but if I do that, what is the trade off? On a more pleasant note. I comment on hugs a lot. In Ellen's file I came across this:

---- Here's to Hugs Hugs keep you healthy.

Hugs can relieve pain and depression, reduce stress, help overcome fear, are invigorating, rejuvenating, and just plain feel good.

Hugs are all natural.

They require no special equipment, do not harm the environment, and are naturally sweet with no sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Hugs are perfect.

There are no parts to wear out, no monthly payments. You can never have too many and they always fit. Hugs are theft-proof, low energy consumption and high energy yeild, and fully recyclable.

Hugs make happy days happier and impossible days possible. Give a hug today.

---- After typing that, it seems my problems are solved by more hugs! I sure do miss her hugs ;-(( ---- also in the file was this preprinted 5X7 card - and it isn't good news for me "Due To Current Financial Constraints, The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Will Be Turned Off Until Further Notice" ---- Hugs to each of you and thanks in advance for any advice - and go hug a tree does not count as good advice! Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org If we are the recipient of pain it is black and white. When we have something to gain there are all shades of grey.

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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 08:39:19 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] Wondering on grief and more on hugs! On Tue, 13 Jun 2000 20:56:28 -0500, Joyce Yeager wrote:

Now.......I can barely find my closet, I haven't touched the ceiling fans since he died or dusted once. It is not only that I feel no energy to do it, but that I don't care if it gets done or not. It doesn't seem important anymore. Not much does.

Joyce - You described what I was writing about better than I could.

This is exactly the way I feel. Keith's visit was planned and I had on my todo list - vac and dust upstairs - it never got done and he leaves in a couple of hours. I feel like a donkey for not doing it. That's not the only thing, it is just an example.

It is plain hard for me to get going - I think things were better 2 months ago - in some ways, than they are now.

I like your carousel description. It fits. I'm just going around and around and not doing better this month - sort of stuck in time and emotions, not knowing what to do, and not having the gumption to do anything.

I guess this passes, I don't know when, but it won't come any too soon.

Guess we just have to hold on and enjoy the ride - just wish they would change the music! Hugs and prayers,
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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 08:50:41 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] A Fairly Good Day Dear Denise, Happy to read of your progress and a 'hex' on Gary for spoiling things.

He needs understanding, but don't let his grief interfere with your progress. Just know that he is doing the best he can, and you do what you need to with your Dad.

Had to smile that your Dad wants to wear a charm.

After Ellen's death I started wearing her wedding ring on a chain, along with a curcifix-heart that had been my Christmas gift to her in 1999 - I then added my wedding ring and had a jeweler solder them together - and I'm a guy who doesn't wear jewelry - so my heart is with your Dad! I understand some of his sentiments.

My heart goes out to you as you deal with your brothers.

"head in the sand" is a comfortable position for ostriches.

Their backs will hurt eventually and they will have to look at the world in an upright position pretty soon.

Looking back at my Mom's death. Months and years later I was always saddened when the house didn't look like it used to when Mom was alive. I think boys, more than girls, like to go home and see things 'as they used to be'. It is a fantasy world, but I relished in it while Mom was alive.

When Dad took over, it was a totally different world.

I'd call a family meeting, with Dad, and them and sort of air things out and hope they will see that your efforts are moving you and your Dad towards healing, and their desires to keep things 'as they were' is going to hurt Dad, and you.

Hugs and prayers,
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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 10:52:57 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] Wondering on grief and more on hugs! Dear Lisa, Thanks for the many kind words. They are deeply appreciate, especially in the liquid sunshine I am now enjoying today.

If my feelings are 'normal' I can hardly wait to return to an 'abnormal' state - just joking.

I'm off to regular meetings with the psychiatrist and grief group today - hopefully I'll refresh my attitude and be ready for the next trip to the well or the carousel. I will also contribute some money to keep the light on at the end of the tunnel! We need all the help we can get on this journey of ours.

As I repeat time and time again, "It is not a choice of pain or no pain, but how you will manage the pain for today". Guess I'll try to manage it in a positive way.

Thanks and hugs,
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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 21:44:12 -0700

Subject:

Re: Dave - useless, worthless?? Hi Lynn Well, now, you have to take my comments in context.

Outside of the internet and wonderful support from this group, there is an entire world out there, with real events, situations, people and emotions.

This is where I have to deal with feelings of worth or usefulness.

Having been happily married the sudden role of loner is a complete stranger to me. I think in my case a lot of happiness, value and sense of worth came from the relationship with Ellen. The's the kind of worth or value I am dealing with. No matter how ugly a day might have been, nor how many salesmen on the phone there might have been, a word or two between us seem to set the world straight and helped keep each of us feeling secure.

The support from the group is outstanding, but when the power off button is pushed and the lights dim on the display, there is no feedback and no sense of connection. That is one of the downsides of the electronic world - one can find out almost anyting and reach almost anyone, but is there anyone really there? Even my cat offers more sense of being and companionship - and there is no power button on him. I'm just learning, after a session with the psychiatrist, and a grief group session, that this weeks feelings of despair, or depression, are pretty much in line with others. I simply hadn't reached this level before. Part of it is that other things are going better, so now these feelings occupied more attention and interest or concern on my part. It is just like everything else - the feelings are all brand new and strange to me.

It was also confirmed, directly and otherwise, that dealing with issues is perhaps preferred - thought everyone differs somewhat, the general thought was it is okay to go into those supposed dark places, in one's own good time, and touch, feel and deal with whatever issues might surface. It is nice to have that confirmation and I'll stay on my course and my friend can continue on his. I realize too that surrendering myself to God and finding peace through belief will answer some of these same issues - but like others - I stray off the course and have to find my way back, and it is painful at times. God bless you for your concern and support Lynn,
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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 21:56:39 -0700

Subject:

Re: [F-AHEAD] Wondering on grief and more on hugs! Hi Barbara, Thanks for the very open and sharing note. The words of support and concern do matter to me and I deeply appreciate them.

I had a visit with my psychiatrist today. The subject of antidepressants didn't even come up. I did cover with him the same notes I wrote - value, worth, ambition, etc. His comments were that things were going fairly normal in his opinion, and that if I stick on his recommendations: sufficient sleep, use my mantra, get out each day, visit someone each week, etc. - that given this routine things will change. In addition of course I'm taking care of myself, the farm, horses, house and all the traditional things one has to do in order to live.

I think the biggest source of this depression is that all of a sudden other things are getting better and now this feeling has room to surface and expand. They are a set of new feelings and I haven't had to deal with them before. Hopefully I will.

The other thing I learned overnight was that one of my meds that I am on, for cholesterol, has a fatigue and dizziness side affect. We discussed that and I am dropping the med for a couple of nights to see how I do. The symptoms usually go away in the mid or late afternoon, and the note you answered was written during one of my fatigue periods. Ellen was on prozac, from this same psychiatrists recommendations, so the subject of antidepressants is not foreign to him and we, he and I, actually discussed it about 4 weeks ago, and then he saw no need either.

Have to laugh at your threat to drag me out of the well by my shirt collar! Good, staight talk and I can understand it. Guess I better get my act together fast!! I'm glad you are making so much progress. It must feel really wonderful to you. I know the times when I get something done that Ellen would have enjoyed my heart beats a little happier and I smile a lot more. Sounds like you have a happy heart and big smile (for the most part).

Here's hoping Wednesday is a great day for both of us! Take care, Dave
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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 22:26:18 -0700

Re: [F-AHEAD] MOVING ON WITH LIFE Dear Patricia, Sounds like Joe's brothers and sister have a lot of idle time to spend speculating on why, what, when, and where you are going to do something. I'd guess they are using this to offset their feelings of grief, and by sort of striking out they are defending Joe's position in the family.

You know when we were caregivers we could feel effective and contributing - but most family members (at least mine) tend to stand on the sidelines and (in my case) shake their heads because they don't really believe the seriousness of the cancer and end up feeling ineffective. They are helpless when death comes and they might tend to strike out at anything they don't like - You can stay there of course, but you didn't marry Joe's brothers or sister. Staying there might satisfy them, but even if you did, they might find something to crab about later. You have made a good decision for you and I don't think you have to defend it to anyone.

Some of us believe, as I do, that Ellen and her new friends, are part of a new life in a new place. I doubt that Ellen is in a holding pattern waiting around and doing nothing. I firmly believe she is fully invested in her new life and is participating fully in everything it has to offer. I believe each of us, as caregivers or survivors, has an equal opportunity to participate fully in everything our life has to offer.

I am convinced that you, Paticia, have every right, and almost a duty, to resume life and participate in it fully, and hopefully you surround yourself with people who can support you in this new quest.

Guess if I were in you shoes, I'd tell them "I loved Joe, I would have died for him and I did absolutely everything I could, now, please help me find a new life without him, or bug off!" Boy it is easy to be brave when you are hundreds of miles away from the trouble! It dawned on me this week the value of having someone, like your mother, in the house. Keith was with me for a 3 nights. Wow - did I sleep better, just knowing I didn't have to be on 'red alert' 24 hours a day - having company is really good for the soul, mind, and heart. I'm glad your Mom is with you....

Hugs and prayers to you, you are okay and doing the right things!
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Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 22:42:17 -0700

Subject:

Re: [F-AHEAD] Wondering on grief and more on hugs! Hi Maurene, You did strike a chord! With both hands.

I so sorry your notes ended up as they did. I can't imagine the loss. As a caregiver for Ellen my notes were really treasures - like yours they captured more than numbers and much more than medical stuff. Fortunately mine are still mine and most were alwasy under my control. The very last notes, taken to the ER room, never were returned to me, but today, that is okay. My friend, Jere, I think is missing something by 'trashing' things. I wish he'd ask for an opinion, but in his stage of grief he is doing what he thinks best. Only time will tell.

I took the other road and it is taking me months to slowly go through Ellen's posessions. The clothing was easy for me to handle. I still have a lot of it, and the rest of it is happily a part of some needy persons closet and being put to good use. Ellen delighted in buying used clothing - she was a true scotchman at heart - and delighted in bargaining for things. So I suspect she will be proud of me for helping someone else dress well, look good and feel good, further justifying Ellen's good taste and barganining power! Her craft materials have followed a route similar to yours.

They are in the hands of some deserving people (Senior Citizens) who love them! They are tickled pink and I can't think of a better pair of hands (dozens) to hold things that Ellen chose.

Now as I go through the many other posessions, I'm taking the time to touch, feel, and deal with each item. It is slow, sometimes uncomfortable, but when I am done, I will feel that I have truly honored her and treated her posessions with the respect they are due.

Thanks for writing and I pray we have a smooth journey in the days ahead,
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Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 09:26:41 -0700

Subject: Dumb things I do Need some help - Some time ago I sent a note and in it was the address we can write to have our loved ones removed from bulk mailing address lists.

I promptly lost that address and never did send in Ellen's name for removal.

Does anyone have the note I sent or know where to write? The name was something like Direct Response Marketing Thanks Dave
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Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 17:11:52 EDT

Subject: (no subject)

I just read your checklist and thoughts for new cancer patients and caregivers. It is wonderful. I know it may have been hard for you to do this but it is such a gift to people just beginning this journey. I wish I had read it sooner. Some of the planning for the final chapter I have not done yet. Reading your offering has jogged me into action. I am going to start working on the things I have neglected to do. Thank you so much for your gift to us all. Bonnie T.

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Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 17:36:51 -0700

Subject: Tears of Joy I just want to share something good that just happened to me.

You've all followed by ramblings for 4 months now. No one knows better than those reading my posts how subject to change my emotions are. Well, today is one of those days that is hard to believe - but it is real.

I had a truly wonderful day! The first such day in 4+ months - and the first time I've said those words since Ellen died Feb. 8. And shortly after I said them to myself outloud, I started crying tears of joy - and boy do those tears feel different, better and more wonderful than ever.

I haven't felt so good in so long - it is truly unbelievable. It was so shocking that my first thought is I have to share this. There can be good, no not good, but great days, even in the middle of grief work! It finally happened! Hooray! I think a lot of things led up to this elation. It took a series of events and positive experiences, and I'm glad they took place! Keith left yestrday morning. We'd had a great visit. I shopped for some notebooks for my grief work. Sam (the psychiatrist) and I had a great visit. He looked better (he has cancer) and he claimed I looked better too. I visited three chaplains at the hospital (all of whom had known us long before Ellen's death) and had 3 wonderful social visits with them. The grief group went exceedingly well and another fellow and I agreed to meet for lunch next week. And last night I decided to drop one of my medicines (more on this later).

So this wonderful day followed a pretty good day, and I recall dreaming last night and awoke almost refreshed and not at all dizzy (hooray) and was able to go up and down stairs without the fatigue and agony I have felt for months. Chores went well. Got my beans on the stove and cooking and took off to donate material at the senior center and have lunch and shop.

There I ran into the manager of services - she had been nice to me on three occasions and had written a thank you letter a couple of months ago. 3 weeks ago she and I talked in the hall about grief and dying, horses, and hobbies and just socialized. At that time I almost blushed from feelings of being scared. Anyhow today - we stumbled into each other at the entrance and I eventually asked if she still dated - to make it short, 'yes, but no one asks' so I did ask if I could call later to maybe arrange for a lunch meeting later (real strong position, heh?). Guess what? She accepted! I was blown away.

Then I had a great lunch with my friend David, who has stuck with me all these months, and that was followed by friendly sales clerks in 4 stores (looking for a lamp to aid in photographing Ellen's posessions) and by the time I got home I was on top of the world.

It just seems unreal, but it is REAL and I love the feeling! Hey gang, there is a door that does open. Don't know where they all are, but they are someplace out there.

I recall an old, original Star Trek (Capt. Kirk vintage) where there was a planet with a portal to the past - the scenes flew by fast and one could jump into any era of life. I feel I just jumped through a doorway that opens into life as I knew it - I just hope I can stay in this land for longer than the 60 minutes allowed in Star Trek. I have thanked God for giving me the strength and thanked Ellen for giving me the honesty to take risks - prayer and belief are strong allies - and part of my everyday. I just hope I can build on this one day of feeling wonderful - it is like being reborn. One thing which I think really made a difference, I dropped a cholesterol medicine last night. In talks with Jere, the fellow whose wife died 12 days ago, I learned of potential side effects of fatigue and dizziness. I have had those symptoms for months. I've talked to the doctor, to the psychiatrist and my grief group - and heads nod, and the general opinion was/is that this is just grief and grieving. Well based on a sample of one day, I think the medicine was a big contributor. That's my story for today - it isn't even 40 minutes old. You've all seen or read of me down in the dumps, feeling up and down, feeling good and bad - so this time I hope you don't mind hearing about a griever who eventually had a truly great day. I just pray that we all get more of them and get them as soon as God permits.

I have a lot of grief work to do. I'm barely started on this journey, and up until now I wondered how I could endure as there wasn't much sunshine amidst all the grief work. Now, I think there is sunshine, now I believe there is a chance that things can be fun and that laughter can be a noise I make and feeling I have. If I count them up, I was personally touched by 6 nice people yesterday, and 7 nice people today - it is/was a wonderful experience and that doesn't begin to count all of you who have written me.

Thank you everyone - your words, prayers and cyber-hugs mean a lot. I pray that each of you finds a portal or door today or whenever you want it. Hugs and hopes for the future - and stay tuned - my next channel change could be to Jeopardy (is that still on) or some TV psycho-drama.
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Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 20:47:07 -0700

Subject:

Re: (no subject) On Thu, 15 Jun 2000 17:11:52 EDT,

I just read your checklist and thoughts for new cancer patients and caregivers. It is wonderful. I know it may have been hard for you to do this but it is such a gift to people just beginning this journey. Dearest Bonnie, Wow! Do you know how to improve on someone's day.

Thank you ever so much for your kind words and appreciation.

Twas not a hard document to write. Ellen had died and I knew between the two of us we had a gift or two left to give. I can recall the time I spend writing it from scratch and with the memory of Ellen so fresh and real, the thinking and typing flowed like nothing else ever has.

I'm glad you found it, I am saddened that you find it useful, as I wish so deeply that no one ever had to read it again.....that is the day I pray for.

May your journey be very long, very, very long.

Dave
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Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2000 20:47:07 -0700

Re: [MM] (no subject)

I just read your checklist and thoughts for new cancer patients and caregivers. It is wonderful. I know it may have been hard for you to do this but it is such a gift to people just beginning this journey.

Dearest Bonnie, Wow! Do you know how to improve on someone's day.

Thank you ever so much for your kind words and appreciation.

Twas not a hard document to write. Ellen had died and I knew between the two of us we had a gift or two left to give. I can recall the time I spend writing it from scratch and with the memory of Ellen so fresh and real, the thinking and typing flowed like nothing else ever has.

I'm glad you found it, I am saddened that you find it useful, as I wish so deeply that no one ever had to read it again.....that is the day I pray for.

May your journey be very long, very, very long.

Dave
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Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 11:48:54 -0700

Subject: Foregiveness? Hi - Please forgive me for not staying in communication.

My life has been through some significant alterations since Thursday.

The grief is as it should be and something I feel very comfortable with. I have more to say on that later.

Life was very busy with a stream cleanup Saturday, and I learned my internet provider was out of service over the weekend, Monday was a board meeting, and the first of two heart tests for me, and Monday night I learned that the monster, cancer, has struck my family again.

Today I completed the second of my heart tests (I think I passed, will know more later after the images have developed and been read).

I've not been on the internet since Friday morning and I am behind.

My first priority now is some cancer research, and then I will begin to try and find a level place to play and catch up with the world.

Hugs! Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.

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Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 11:48:54 -0700

Subject: [F-AHEAD] Foregiveness? Hi - Please forgive me for not staying in communication.

My life has been through some significant alterations since Thursday.

The grief is as it should be and something I feel very comfortable with. I have more to say on that later.

Life was very busy with a stream cleanup Saturday, and I learned my internet provider was out of service over the weekend, Monday was a board meeting, and the first of two heart tests for me, and Monday night I learned that the monster, cancer, has struck my family again.

Today I completed the second of my heart tests (I think I passed, will know more later after the images have developed and been read).

I've not been on the internet since Friday morning and I am behind.

My first priority now is some cancer research, and then I will begin to try and find a level place to play and catch up with the world.

Hugs! Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.

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Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 10:37:38 -0700

Subject: Off grief topic: Just a quick update I can't begin to say how much all the support from this group means to me. I suspect I am not alone in that feeling as I've seen a lot of love go out to everyone in need. It is simply terrific.

I posted a very terse, rushed and content-less free note the other day. Maybe that showed the state of my mind. Who knows.

Here is a little more background information and some unsettling news I received. This stuff is more 'fyi' and sort of off topic on grief, and I'm okay with the developments so no need to worry about me on these issues. Okay? I just want to close the door on the cancer issue I raised - I think it is okay.

On the cancer thing, the day I wrote that note, Betty and I had a conversation. She was in a world of hurt. But...

I seemed to have used up a father's false alarm over the health of a beloved daughter.

Based on our last conversation, Wednesday, My daughter seems in a safe harbor - I am not there with her, but she seems satisfied for now that the LEEP results showed a precancerous condition. She is awaiting the results of the lab tests (Monday) and will no doubt be on edge for months to come and dread, yet eagerly await, the results of future pap tests. Meanwhile...... as the sage continues ...

I had a routine treadmill exam and the results aren't that good.

I aced the physical part of the test, and hardly broke a sweat, although the pace was fast and the incline was steep. The previous day we took pictures of my resting heart (using a thalium like material) and this day we took more pictures after my heart had been stressed.

The test results showed 'ischema' which is a term used many ways, sometimes to describe a 'silent heart attack' and sometimes to describe tissue deprived of normal oxygen.

I have an increased 'ischema' area. It surrounds my original heart attack. That is about all we know right now. I'm off to a cardiovascular guy on July 6 for a consultation.

So I am in a fog - lots of mixed emotions - and I'll just have to go on from here. Time and more tests will tell me what is happening.

N Dave Palmer Chehalis Watershed at: http://www.crcwater.org Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.

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Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2000 11:49:16 -0700

Subject: Emotional deaths on this journey..

Hi In my online absence a lot has happened in the last week. I am so far behind in reading - but I will catch up - and I apologize in advance for typing a self-centered note like this, but I've a need to share.

You folks are all my close, yet extended family, and as corny as it sounds I love each of you in a very special way in a very special part of my heart and soul! Almost two weeks ago something unknown caused me to sit down, look at some scars and relive some painful events that had literally drove me to the bottom of the grief well - and yet, without them, I could not be as I am today.

Ellen died Feb 8 - and my email correspondence began then along with all the pain and sorrow that grief can bring when a person dies.

On Valentine's day the spreading of the ashes was another painful symbolic death.

As the days, weeks and months have ticked by, more and more 'deaths' as I call them, have happened. Each one of them has been traumatic and extremely painful, yet as each one took place the memories associated with them became easier to deal with.

The death of the 'couple' along with the death of 'the future' followed. I can't remember feeling more alone in my life. Where would I go and who would help me? Then there was the agony of dealing with the guilt of having done or not down enough to prevent Ellen's death. This led to a painful experience of releasing those feelings of guilt over the events the led to her death.

I can recall the next bear trap and that was when I realized that the caring and love that Ellen showered me with for all those many many years had vanished too. That day was one of thw worst days of my life.

But worse than that was the realization that I had now reached the point that I no longer 'cared', or worse even 'dreamed'.

Somehow through prayer, God's help, or intuition I finally created an affirmation that said in part: "I want to be able to respond to my grief in a way which respects my health, healing, need for life, need to grieveand allows me to participate fully in life". That was a turning point for me....

But the well was still open and I fell all the way to the bottom again and again. The most gut wrenching and painful (physically) event happened when I used a mantra the psychiatrist had created: "Ellen is dead, I miss her very much, there is nothing I can do about her death". One day maybe three weeks ago I said that out loud and in a very strong voice, almost a shout to the heavens. I've never sobbed so hard and so long in my life and never felt so exhausted and drained. It was painful and yet when it was over it was such a relief. It truly felt like something which came from the guts of my brain in a place where no thoughts are ever processed and only emotion sits there, waiting to explode in fear, flight or anger.

All of that was what had happened up to the point that I wrote my 'tears of joy' note on June 15 - Since then my life has had more ups and downs - more ups than ever before. The lady I wrote about that day exchanged phone calls with me on the 16th. Since then we have walked and talked and talked and talked and held hands and individual lights have turned on, very brilliant and very personal, but still very individual. And I will write more about that another day. I've already shared the cancer information and heart information so I won't repeat that.

Those events led to two more deaths that I've not felt before yet they seem to be necessary for me to continue this journey....

One day earlier this week I found new experiences overpowering and at the same time the wave of pain and guilt was almost unbearable. I was doing laundry and all of a sudden the act of loading and unloading a washing machine helped me feel the dying of memories as they were replaced by new experiences - it was as though the memories were begging to be held onto, yet at the same time they were fighting to be free of me. It is hard to explain. But like the painful screams from a few weeks before - their passing brought a great deal of relief.

And just yesterday yet another set of emotions raised it head. Holding hands, taking a walk, enjoying a moment with someone else, hugging or even thoughts of loving another didn't come without some painful reflection and a need to talk it through, cry and release some guilt over when did Ellen and I take that last walk together, or when did we last hold hands just for the joy of doing it, or last hug each other. These were simple things that I thought about when she died, and couldn't remember even then, because neither of us knew which event was to be the last one......

So now, thankfully, but not without pain, I think that guilt is leaving me.

The journey continues, with new hope, and a lot of confusion and new health and relationship issues - but I think I am better able to deal with the grief today than I ever was before - the grief isn't over, it is simply less of an issue today than it was 2 weeks ago.

Everynight I pray for each of you and I pray for healing, health and happiness. I wish no one ever had to join with us, yet I am glad we are here together. I do pray that your journey is smoother, yet I know it won't be. I do pray that we heal and yet never forget the love and joy that once enveloped each of us so wonderfully and joyously when we were with our loved one.

Just as I wrote this I realize that I have to back off a little and focus on my health, two grandkids arriving this week, and try to balance all the family, friends, estate, dating, and volunteer efforts - I truly feel overloaded and so far behind that it is necessary to slow down and pace myself. I did switch to digest form yesterday and I will catch up, but I may not contribute as often or in such detail. That may be good news for everyone, as I tend to type too much, and rattle on and on. I am still here, only less talkative, and hopefully more of a listener to others issues.

A favorite quote:

"And, in the end, this moving forward with that scar is the very best that we could hope for. You would not want to forget your loved one, as if she had never existed or not been an important part of your life. Those things that are important to you in your life are remembered and kept in the very special places of your heart and mind. This is no less true with regard to the loss of a beloved person. Keep this loss, treasure what you have learned from it, take the memories that you have from the person and the relationship and, in a healthy fashion, remember what should be remembered, hold on to what should be retained, and let go of that which must be relinquished. And then, as you continue on to invest emotionally in other people, goals, and pursuits, appropriately take your loved one with you, along with your new sense of self and new way of relating to the world, to enrich your present and future life without forgetting your important past." Hugs, prayers and love for each of us
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Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 12:25:16 -0700

Subject: Just need to type..

Just in from mowing a lawn and taking a loooooong walk in the heat.

Thoughts have been bouncing around all morning, especially since I woke up full of fear and anxiety - all of which I think surround my grief over Ellen's death. I've two grand children coming this weekend, a big meeting tonight, and I am trying to fully engage in courting and a relationship. I've simply set myself up as trying to 'prove that your're so strong and doing so well'. Which I am not.

Before my walk and mowing I prayed a lot and wrote in my journal and actually called my MD (over my symptoms). Talked to the nurse and spilled my guts and I'm going to embark on some chemical help to aid me in this period.

It has dawned on me that I am AFRAID to smile, laugh and enjoy life. I've had, I guess, a mental image of somberness, seriousness and misery. The treadmill results, which I posted earlier this week, haven't helped, so I've let a bit of FEAR play around in the brain.

So before I become chemically altered, I wanted to share where I am at. Happy in many aspects of life, but so afraid to let it show - as though it would be wrong or disrespectful, or ??? Who knows what is going on inside my brain stem, but it seems I can use a boost to get me over this hump. It just doesn't seem right to me that when I feel okay I am reluctant to show it. Maybe it is a fear of loss, fear of caring about myself, or plain fear of life. Whatever it is, I sure want to shake it, and the affirmations and mantras and prayer aren't enough right now to get me confident enough to go ahead.

Anyhow, thanks for reading - overall I am okay - just feeling alone, fearing my own mortality and stressed out. I think acknowledging it is helpful, I think seeking professional help is helpful, and perhaps sharing it publicly will help as well.

Hugs, prayers and wishes for everyone's good health - mental, emotional and physical.


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